Back in 2013, LinkedIn hit a major milestone with 3 million Company Pages on the site. With new users currently signing up at a rate of about two members per second, that number just keeps on rising.
Not only is LinkedIn the leading professional social networking site, it’s a must-have addition to your small business social media marketing plan. If you aren’t already leveraging it to promote your services, there’s no time like the present. What follows is a guide to mastering this social network in four easy steps.
How to use LinkedIn marketing for small businesses:
Set up your Company Page
Before you start marketing on LinkedIn, you’ve got to have a Company Page. LinkedIn requires that users create a personal profile page first. When that’s done, you’ll see an icon marked “Work” in the top right corner of your profile, and you’ll be able to scroll down to “Create a Company Page.” LinkedIn will prompt you to enter your company name and email address, followed by a 250 to 2,000-character description of your business.
This description should be consistent with the “About Us” section of your website. Be sure to include your most important keywords here to help boost your page’s ranking on search engines. You’ll also have an opportunity to insert your business’s contact information, industry (fine art, insurance, hospitality, etc.), specialties (e.g. photography, physical therapy, fitness, etc.), along with your business logo.
Once you’ve published your page, you can revisit it to make updates anytime. You’ll find a link to it in a drop-down menu under your headshot on your profile page, next to that “Work” button. As soon as your Company Page is live and looking the way you want it to, add a LinkedIn Follow button to your company website and blog, and link to your Page on any other social sites you’re using. This will ensure that your customers can find it.
Finally, ask your employees to link to the Company Page from their own LinkedIn profiles. The number of employees associated with your page will be visible to the public, so encouraging this adds credibility and authenticity to your business, while also driving traffic to your Company Page and supporting your LinkedIn marketing.
When it comes to marketing on LinkedIn, having a comprehensive company page is half the battle — but you’ve got to keep it up to date. As it the case with blogs, you don’t want the page to look abandoned, as this reflects negatively on your business and might even lead customers to believe you’ve closed your doors. It’s important, therefore, to update your page regularly. Past research conducted by LinkedIn has shown that businesses should aim for 20 new posts per month.
While advertising is available, you don’t necessarily need to pay LinkedIn to benefit from this addition to your social media marketing toolbox; in fact, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal advised against it. You can use the site to grow a community of followers simply by posting good content.
If you do decide to advertise, LinkedIn makes it easy by giving you the ability to turn existing posts into ads. In the Campaign Manager section of the site, select from Sponsored Content, Text Ads, or Sponsored InMail (for an email campaign). Once you have a campaign up and running, you can click the “Sponsor Now” button at the top of any one of your posts and select a target audience and budget to turn that content into an ad on the site.
Analyze and optimize your approach
As you begin to post content to your Company Page, you’ll want to determine how well it’s working and tweak it for optimal results. The Analytics tab on your Company Page will become your best friend, offering critical insight into the effectiveness of your posts.
LinkedIn provides stats on your impressions, clicks, interactions, overall engagement rate, and follower counts, along with graphs charting your reach that can be customized based on date range. Watch your posts carefully to see which ones perform best, and test various types to find out what your customers prefer. Some ideas include posts that ask a question (e.g. “What’s your favorite type of flower? Let us know and our landscape architects will snap a picture of it in one of their designs!”); engage your audience (“Caption this photo! We’ll pick a winner tomorrow and post their creative idea”); or share client testimonials (“Our newest customer, Becky C., was thrilled with her customized fitness routine! Here’s what she had to say”).
Put on your writing cap
In addition to sharing short-form content, you have the option of using LinkedIn’s Publishing tool. What started as a blogging platform for high-profile professionals and celebrities in 2012 is now available to companies of all kinds. It gives businesses an opportunity to dive deeper into important and interesting subjects related to their services. Recent data from content strategy and research company BuzzSumo shows that long-form content on LinkedIn receives more shares than short-form posts.
But there’s a catch: you can’t currently share long-form content on your Company Page. LinkedIn requires that you publish your articles to your personal profile page instead. This actually makes the tool perfect for small business owners who have plenty of expertise to share about their line of work. Think of LinkedIn articles as blog posts, and start telling the story of what makes you and your business so unique.
Want to know more about LinkedIn marketing and other social media platforms? Visit our the social media tab on this blog for tons of helpful tricks and tips.